Millions of Latter-day Saints and others have found comfort at an unsettling global moment viewing — and often re-viewing — President Russell M. Nelson’s “Message of Hope during Coronavirus Outbreak.”
The Church president said members enjoy the “great privilege” of ministering, serving their neighbors and providing much-needed comfort and assurance.
“Please take good care of yourselves and your loved ones,” he said, “and look for opportunities to help those around you, near and far.”
Many are following President Nelson’s counsel. Here are a few incidents of ministering around the world during disruptive times shared with the Church News in recent days:
Ministering via group chats
Kacey Judd of the Prosper 2nd Ward, Texas Prosper Stake, heeded a prompting a few months ago to establish a group chat with the neighbors living in her new subdivision.
She asked the folks living around her to introduce themselves and include their names and house numbers, “so everyone could get acquainted, at least over text, and have a contact point for each other. We don’t use the chat very often — but we know it’s there.”
With the news of the pandemic everywhere, Judd woke with another prompting to send a message to her neighbors and see if all were OK.
“I watched as neighbors sent their little ones down the street to drop off rolls of toilet paper (to a neighbor in need) and my heart was so full of gratitude for the kindness that was shown,” she wrote. “We don’t know each other very well, but it is awesome to see people come together to help.”
Such ministering in a new Texas subdivision of relative strangers reminded Judd of several eternal gospel principles such as the law of consecration, self-reliance and the faith that God blesses those who strive to bless others.
“Kindness,” she wrote, “begins with me — and it’s contagious.”
Peaceful worship in a busy Asian city
Hong Rui Cong, a young single adult from Taipei, Taiwan, has found joy in ministering to Latter-day Saints in the northern end of the bustling capital city.
On Sunday, March 22, he stopped by the apartment of a fellow young single adult to participate in the sacrament with a small group of members, sing hymns and help share a Sabbath day lesson
“COVID-19 has impacted our lives…. So we spoke about the importance of families and how the gospel of Jesus Christ can allow us to feel peace in our lives,” he said.
Power in being remembered
Robyn Jones of the River Oaks YSA Ward, West Jordan Utah YSA Stake, has learned over the past week that ministering at a moment of uncertainty need not be flashy or new. Most of the time, there’s no need to reinvent the “ministering wheel.”
There is power in people simply knowing they are being remembered.
“I had a stroke when I was 8 years old, so emotions and sensations are especially heightened during times of stress like these for me,” wrote Jones. “I have noticed over the last couple of days that more people are reaching out to me, making sure that I’m okay — especially the people who know more about me.
“It took me a little while to notice these blessings through the fear and worry, but now that I am aware of them, I feel a sense of relief and of peace.”
A moment to listen, share joy
Latter-day Saint Melissa Welker was leaving her home recently to pick up a few food items when she felt prompted to check on an elderly widow who lives alone on her street and ask if she needed anything from the store.
The woman’s face lit up when she answered Welker’s knock.
“She was quick to tell me that she didn’t need anything, and then she asked me to come sit and visit for a minute,” wrote Welker. “I found out that due to her diabetes and her age, she was staying in her house until this was all over with.
“She asked me if I wanted to see her home, and as she walked me through each room, she pointed out things that were special to her and told me the stories behind them. She took me out to her backyard, where she showed me the plants she prunes and cares for. It is her favorite place to be.”
The two friends talked about their own families and both were uplifted by a simple visit.
Ministering via JustServe.org
Latter-day Saints in the San Clemente, California, area have long enjoyed a relationship with Family Assistance Ministries, a charitable organization that provides food, supplies and counseling resources to people in need in south Orange County.
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the organization has lost most of their warehouse volunteers, who are mostly senior citizens.
Utilizing the Church’s JustServe.org program, local members and others from the community have recently filled more than two dozen shifts, allowing Family Assistance Ministries to continue to serve at-risk communities at a time of crisis, wrote Autumn McAlpin, who serves as the JustServe representative in her ward.
“At the warehouse, volunteers are limited to groups of 10 and practice social distancing, hand washing, and wear gloves as they pack the boxes for the community,” McAlpin reported. “Many have gone as family units, taking their kids, and have claimed they had a great time serving together and can’t wait to go back.
“Family Assistance Ministries has said their demand is greater than ever even though their supplies have been cut in half — so more than ever we are trying to help where we can.”
McAlpin added that members in her community have also recently placed a listing on JustServe seeking volunteers to sew medical masks to donate to local hospitals.
“We’re hoping this provides an activity people can do while at home that helps us reflect outward toward the many heroes who are risking their lives to help others.”
A virtual ‘Welcome Home, Elder!’
A few days ago, Elder Brad Prolo returned home to Southern California after his missionary service in the Ukraine was unexpectedly cut short because of the pandemic.
Typically, many friends and folks from his ward would have gathered at the airport to welcome Elder Prolo home. But given current social distancing practices, they opted for a bit of modern-day creativity.
“Without hesitation, a member of my ward, Debra Bledsoe, began to reach out to members and friends and asked them to record a short video clip welcoming Elder Prolo home,” said Celeste Prolo, the missionary’s mother.
This is part of the video made for Elder Prolo by his friends and family.
“The clips were put together into a single video for Brad to watch. He felt so much love from all of those who were able to send a ‘virtual’ welcome home.”
Tech-savvy youth stay connected, serve
Elder Fernando Del Carpio, an Area Seventy from Tacna, Peru, marvels at the ministering opportunities afforded by today’s technology. Many of the efforts happening at the moment to care for others at a time of crisis simply would not have been possible even a decade ago.
Bishops and stake presidents across Peru, he reported, are staying in frequent contact with the people they serve using smartphones and inexpensive or no-cost apps such as WhatsApp.
A teacher in Peru uses his phone to plan ministering goals with his adults advisors and fellow Aaronic Priesthood holders from his ward
“We are seeing many bishops using technology to meet with their youth councils and set family history indexing goals,” said Elder Del Carpio.
Such communications, “are strengthening our testimonies even while we are quarantined with our families.”
Elder Del Carpio said the young people in his country are especially adept at utilizing technology — a skill that’s allowing youth to minister to their peers. Many local Aaronic Priesthood quorums and Young Women’s classes are staying connected, planning and lifting one another through frequent video chats.